Monday, June 25, 2007

Big Art (and I Mean That Literally)

I've been looking at some Big Art lately. Or, maybe "looking" is the wrong word. More like walking through. As they said in my undergraduate sculpture program, “If you can’t make it good, make it big. If you can’t make it big, make a lot of ‘em.” It’s been a week of big and good, if art that makes you gasp qualifies as good.

First, if you are in NY any time soon, see the Richard Serra show. Yes, it is a little scary. All but about five of the pieces could easily crush a person flat, and they feel like they are about to topple. I’m surprised the new MOMA building can stay standing under all the weight. But the rusty patinas are gorgeous. The interiors are echoey and evoke many feelings besides fear—some reminded me of walking through canyon washes in the Anza Borrego desert. Others felt sheltery, like forts I built as a kid, out of sheets and furniture. (Only way, way, heavier.)

It helped that my husband and I were able to go to a “private” viewing (one of the perks of working in finance) in which most of the attendees were clustered around the free drinks. We ignored the drinks and spent nearly two hours with the Serra pieces, having them mostly to ourselves. I discovered, as my husband parked inside each and looked (he is known to sit and look at ONE PAINTING for a full hour…) that walking the perimeter of each of the big steel walls was the best way for me to get a feel of the spaces. Like walking a labyrinth for meditation. The edge of the walls took me inside and out of the structures, and the walls bent and curved over my head, flowing in and out like massive breath as I moved around them.

Feeling like art adventurers after the MOMA experience, we decided to drive up to Dia: Beacon on Sunday. My husband fell in love with the Donald Judd pieces, painstakingly-crafted plywood boxes. I felt a surge of feeling on the messier stuff, especially Joseph Beuys’ stacks of felt and copper, and his hat hanging on the wall. And both of us (separately—again, I walked off and left him with Agnes Martin) lost our shit over the Michael Heizer holes in the floor. Perfect, geometric steel holes in the cement. Like the anti-Serra. Worth the price of admission just for the Heizer. Also worth the admission to see big galleries devoted to big art, with lots of natural light coming in from above.

Interesting how my husband likes to stand still to look at art, and I like to keep my feet moving. I never named it before, but that’s what seems to happen. (I majored sculpture and intermedia/performance in school, and he majored in printmaking and painting. Relevant?) Anyhoo, all forms of art appreciation are legit, and I’m glad we have a system for consuming a museum. It works for us in our foreign travels too. We meet up in the cafeteria, or something.

We didn’t see the whole museum, had to come home and spring the puppy, and were a tad paranoid about Gay Pride traffic. Turns out we had no trouble getting through Manhattan, and the dog’s bladder was spared (and our floor). I only wish the cats were as disciplined.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I Will Always Love

This bear head found me on the sidewalk in the East Village a couple weeks ago.


Here's the back.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Lesson In Plot from the Watering Hole

Has this video found its way into your email? Did you hear the one where the water buffalo and the lion walk into a bar? OK, it's a WILDLIFE FILM, so you know what that means, and if you have a delicate consitution, don't click.

BUT, this little slice of nonhuman life follows several of those writing-teacher rules about plot (and I therefore recommend watching the whole thing, if your stomach allows):

1. Have your characters act according to their nature, not do what you would rather they do, or what you would do if you were them.
2. Have the (legit) desires and needs of Character A fall into natural conflict with the (legit) desires and needs of Character B.
3. Put your characters in real jeopardy. (Especially the cute little one, if you're in Hollywood.)
4. Drop in a big surprise or two. It provides shape. But make it logical.
5. Let it be funny, even if it's not.